Can a tiny 4x4 really makes as much sense for the urban woman as a more conventional supermini? June Neary decides at the wheel of Suzuki's little Jimny
Will It Suit Me?
Suzuki's Jimny seems to have all the credentials that are needed to succeed in today's world of multi-functional motors. After all, small cars have never been in such great demand - and the same can safely be said for off-roaders. Whether most owners of 4x4s actually tackle mud instead of tarmac is another question - and one to which the vast majority will give a negative answer. Having said that, those owners would usually say that it's good to have the choice and that's exactly what the Jimny has to offer. This is a car with genuine off-road prowess, yet it's extremely compact: small enough to fit into the tightest space. Thanks to flared wheelarches, bulky side panels, roof rails and spare wheel on the tailgate, the Jimny isn't a 'girlie' looking car - which, in my case, gives it immediate appeal. However, I'm not really into rugged interiors, so I'm pleased to say that the inside is pretty close to what you'd expect from an everyday family hatchback.
I wouldn't usually mention price at this point, but I feel compelled to mention the fact that this Jimny only costs from around £12,500. Like most of today's small three-door cars, the four-passenger capacity doesn't translate too well to long journeys. However, if you think of the Jimny as more of a two-seater, all you need to do is put the rear bench down and you'll have plenty of room for luggage. Those who aren't called upon to ferry family and pets around on regular basis should find this car a very practical companion for both town and country driving.
Behind the Wheel
Once behind the wheel, I loved the Jimny's high seating position. Although I'm not particularly short, I find a lot of cars give me the impression that I'm looking up at through windscreen, rather than sitting squarely behind it. This car didn't make me feel vertically challenged at all - allowing excellent all-round visibility. The Jimny's 1.3-litre 16v engine is a strong unit given its size. Though it's obviously doesn't offer sportscar-like performance, it's very economical. What's more, when you're sick of the streets, you can find some mud, select four-wheel drive and have some fun. The Jimny features Suzuki's 'Drive Select' system - which can be put into place while on the move. Over reasonably rough terrain, the little Suzuki feels very confident, thanks to its tough ladder frame chassis, a standard design feature that many small off roaders lack.
Value For Money
As I said earlier, the Jimny is cheap to buy and to run. In case you missed it, this car is priced from around £12,500. This buys you a three-door SZ3 - which comes with electric front windows, power steering, front airbags, radio and central locking as standard. ABS can also be specified, as, crucially for a town car, can automatic transmission (an option not available on many citycar rivals). As we've come to expect from Suzuki, there is a huge range of accessories available to buyers. This allows you to personalise your car by adding front guards, alloy wheels, grille covers and surrounds for the multi-reflector headlamps. There are also rear spoilers, body graphics and 'themed' spare wheel covers. Bear in mind, however, that these things are personal, so won't necessarily appeal to whoever buys your Jimny when it's time for a change.
Could I Live With One?
I could certainly live with a Jimny, but as ever, I'd have to change my lifestyle if this were to be my only car. If I was young, free and single or any one of the three, this little Suzuki could be the car for me.